Rook

Mingo Hagen via Creative Commons

Her mask was made from the head-bones of an aurochs and she ran. Each footfall landed in a violent clatter, the assault of her soles on earth sending the pouches and hanging weapons from criss-crossed belts and harnesses colliding, rebounding off each other. This was no stealthy flight.

Ridgen Village perched at the edge of the great gorge, squatting there as though trying to defecate into the chasm. When the woman clanged and thudded her way into the muddy slums on Ridgen’s western outskirts, her pursuers were nowhere to be seen.

She paused at the rough sign driven into the sticky grey ground at the village’s limit. The words above the faded whitewash of an arrow, gesturing south, read, “Ridgen. Population 1,300. Bridge customers welcome. Gorge floor path.” Words came slowly to Fian; she relished the opportunity to catch her breath while she made sure she understood the sign’s meaning: the bridge lay ahead, through town; to the south, the long road through the canyon.

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Perspective of Point...

Kelly Cookson via Creative Commons

Teenie risked pulling one hand off the metal railing and touching her pocket. The hard lump of the crystal converter was reassuring, so she slipped her hand in, clutching it. The wind was rushing and Jornah was shouting over the screams and shrieks of the plunging shuttle. Another passenger, a stranger, hung upside down from trembling knees, elbow-deep in the access panel behind the dead driver. Jornah was trying to get to him, instruct him on how to initiate the emergency recharge spellcraft, but there wasn’t enough time.

The crystal could save them all, if she gave it up. It would be used in whole, ‘crafted into the carriage by the stranger’s want and will. But Teenie didn’t want to lose it. She’d worked so hard to get it. It could save her, her and Jornah, maybe that terrified boy across the aisle as well. She only had so many hands. And there would be some crystal left over for later. For another emergency—there was always another emergency. Her grip slipped a little and she had to retract her hand to grab the rail, to readjust.

She didn’t realize it had fallen out until the decision was made.

“Hello, Quest Help Line, this is Dana speaking, how may I be of assistance?”

“Yeah, hi. So look, we’re in the Everdark Dungeon—“

“Is that EverDARK or EverDART?”

“Dark. Dark, like, no light. Is there really an Everdart—actually never mind. Not important. Still there?”

“I’m here, go ahead.”

“Okay anyway, we killed Lord Chymerion—“

“Congratulations!”

“Thanks!”

“Did you find the trap door?”

“There was a trap door?”

“Yes, sir, right underneath him.”

“Aw man, we totally missed that! No, we used a gorgon head our rogue, Tarrix, stole.”

“Very clever.”

“Yeah. The problem is, Tarrix missed a portcullis trap and now we’re under a Disrupt Sight hex. We’ve been wandering for—“

Telephone Switchboard Operators - a vintage circa 1914 photo (cropped)

Royce Bair via Creative Commons

“Okay sir, relax. I can help. Have you tried an anti-hex potion?”

“Tarrix mistook the last one for a restoration potion.”

“Is Tarrix still with you?”

“…Uh, no ma’am.”

“I’m sorry to hear that. What about your conjuror? Did she cast Divine Lighting?”

“Of course she did! Do you think we’re amateurs?”

“No, sir. Sorry, sir. Do you still have your Blessing?“

“Oh my god. I can’t believe we forgot—”

“Ah, well there you go. Try that.”

“It worked! Thank you!”

“That’s what we’re here for, sir.”

Playground

souho via Creative Commons

Anny’s teardrops hold a single sun each, reflecting the steel sky and the ice-crusted landscape. The cheek the salty drops traverse before falling in slow motion are cherub smooth and dark, soft the way nothing in the world save young skin can be. On the way down, one drop in particular wobbles in and out of perfect spherical roundness, taking on the details of a blue calico dress, a brown and pink parka, a pair of white tights dirty only at the knees, puffy boots.

The splash of liquid on frosted concrete curb is, to a particularly attuned ear, audible in a light blip. Touching on the thin wafer of snow, the warm tear burns through to the drab half-foot wall beneath as if it were molten. It can’t darken the already damp surface of the curb, so instead it shimmers there, a sparkle reminiscent of the evening star.

A crystal city erupts from the pit formed by the falling saltwater meteor, spires of ice and glass, slick roadways of frozen sorrow winding up and around each minute, elaborate library or factory or tenement. A glisten of cold starlight glares across the tiny landscape and from this golden glow emerges a silken horse with wings of silver fire, soaring upward. The boy on the bare back of the beast clings to a smoky mane, his tightly curled hair ruffling in the frigid air, a loose tunic snapping behind him. He flies the horse in a looping arc upward, spiraling to the highest peak of the city, glimmering hooves moving in long leaping strides as though sprinting on an invisible path. The horse strains as it rises, diamond flecks of foam sparkling against translucent hide.

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